13/04/2008/3:50 pm, Rock Sound, Eleuthera
This is the first time we've gotten connected since we left George Town so all of a sudden there are five new posts!!
The southern end of Eleuthera is described as a whale's tail and we arrived off one fluke of it midway through Friday morning after an early start from Little San Salvador. It took several more hours until we were securely anchored just off the town in big and beautiful Rock Sound. That is a good-sized whale's tail. We kept the engine on, but used our main and yankee sails to good advantage, averaging 6.8 knots all the way.
Our friends Nancy and Jim (Solitaire) kindly invited us over for a fine evening of getting reacquainted over delectable treats and a cool drink. We last saw them in Little Farmers Cay, and they've been here for a few days already so besides catching up on each other's news, we received lots of tips on places to visit.
Accordingly, the four of us headed to the dinghy dock on Saturday morning for a walk-about. It is amazing to see real streets and streetlights. The town is laid out in blocks and we explored many of them. At our stop at the Ocean Hole, nicely landscaped in a park setting, a fellow zipped by on a bicycle, turned a wide circle because he had no brakes and slowed to a stop. He produced sapodillas to sample - and of course we purchased some from him. We plucked tamarind pods from the trees at the park and sucked on the sticky sweet-sour flesh as we walked. We hiked to the top of the hill where we could look out over the whole bay and pulled a couple of the long pods from Poinciana trees to rattle as we traveled.
As we arrived back in the centre of town again, we met up with George and Nancy (Trumpeter) who let us in on the secret of scrumptious BBQ chicken or pork at the Apple Hole Deli - available only on Saturdays. We hustled down there and were fortunate enough to get some (when it's gone, it's gone). It was absolutely finger lickin' good chicken - the best we've ever had.
I bought a new denim skirt - strange thing, my last one has mysteriously shrunk - and Nancy and I browsed through the well-stocked shops. The grocery store is large and has whatever one might want. There is a NAPA store (closed unfortunately so we'll visit it on Monday) and a shop with delicious pineapple rum liqueur among other bottles of well-priced libations.
In the evening the cruisers (up to 15 or 16 from the 6 here on Friday night) gathered at the gazebo in the north end of the anchorage. It was a terrific spot - left from a failed restaurant that looks as if it might be getting revived - and a terrific time too. We were delighted to see Deb and Paul (Werplayin) again as well as a number of new folks: Liberty, Dreamer, Sam the Skull, Flamingo, Tabby Cat, Interlude, and Eridanus (with us in Fernandez Bay) as well as Trumpeter and Solitaire. Ten Years After and Summer Breezes were here in the harbour too but I don't think I met them - after a few rounds of introductions I kind of lose track!
We decided to attend the Methodist Church on Sunday morning - along with Cathie and Tom (Interlude), Jim and Nancy (Solitaire) and George and Nancy (Trumpeter). It was a very nice service with some familiar hymns and a visiting preacher - from Nassau but visiting there from England. He was a fine storyteller and although we didn't hear the gospel singing we were hoping for, we did find the service meaningful and the Rock Sound people wonderfully warm and welcoming.
The South wind has come up a bit and even though several boats have relocated, we've opted to stay put because the fetch isn't uncomfortable and we like being close to the dock. We've reserved a car tomorrow and will go exploring with Nancy and Jim. We're so glad they are avid explorers too!
11/04/2008/3:46 pm, Little San Salvador
It was an exciting day on the sea!
We set off from Fernandez Bay toward the tiny island of Little San Salvador, now owned by the Holland American Cruise line but still available to cruisers. Jim had his yoyo fishing line out as well as his rod and reel. That simple little yoyo - a line wrapped around a plastic circle - with a shiny pink and silver lure and a big hook kept attracting some big fish. Unfortunately, even though JD the hunter/gatherer pulled in 4 - count 'em - FOUR fish, they were all barracudas and we had to let them go. The thing with barracudas is that they are known to be carriers of ciguatera (a naturally occurring toxin that passes through the food chain - symptoms are numbness and tingling followed by nausea and vertigo, or paralysis in the worst case scenario.) It's rarely fatal but unpleasant enough that we don't want it! Some of the books say a fish under 5 pounds is OK; other books say as long as it is less than the length of one's arm from elbow to finger tips, it's OK, but we did not want to take the risk.
We operated as a team; Jim reeled in the fish - and it was exciting. Barracudas are silver and shiny and heavy enough to feel good on the line. They have very sharp teeth too so Jim donned heavy work gloves, I held the fish up out of the water while he grabbed it and removed the hook from its cheek and then eased it overboard and into the sea again. Each one stopped thrashing around while he was working the hook out so although the teeth looked ominous, they weren't threatening, and Jim had his lures and hooks to use again. While we wished for a fish for dinner, it was still good to catch something!
It was while Jim was sitting on the starboard deck holding his fishing pole that I noticed a dolphin leaping on our starboard side. Soon, there were 6 or 7 of them frolicking back and forth under our bowsprit as we plowed along through the water. We were doing about 6.5 knots and these beautiful creatures just played along with us. We had heard of such a thing but had never experienced it ourselves - and let me tell you, it was an experience.
They honestly seemed to be playing. They would crisscross ahead of the boat - just inches from the bow - run alongside, veer off to surface and then roll over as they crossed in front of us again. Their timing was impeccable and their ability to swim together and with the boat just amazing. We stood out on the bowsprit and could look straight down at them as they played in front of us. It lasted about 10 minutes and then they gradually peeled away - to look for another source of entertainment or perhaps to have a more leisurely swim. We were just thrilled with this display and it seemed pretty dull to go back to fishing and navigating again.
In due course we arrived at Little San Salvador, crossing behind the gigantic Carnival Imagination that was anchored off shore, and nosing in to drop our anchor in the NW corner of the bay. We watched the "boat people" play on the beach for the rest of the afternoon - riding horses, swimming, sunning, sailing hobie cats and pedaling pedal boats. Once the last launch delivered them back to the mother ship, we headed ashore ourselves to stroll along the beautiful crescent beach and marvel at the infrastructure here. There must be money in cruises because there was no shortage of shore facilities for them. This cay was bought by Holland American as a daytime playground for their cruising passengers, and although it must be felt as a loss by the small boat cruisers who loved the place for its remoteness, it is still a fine stopover on the route north to Eleuthera. We read that the firm is happy to have boats anchor here because it adds local colour and that the shore staff is polite and friendly. That was our experience. We roamed all along the beach, chatted with the three fellows on a 4-wheeler who were doing a last sweep of the beach to make sure no one was left behind, and generally nosed around the place. Despite the crowds who had been there all day, I found two really pretty shells that I hadn't seen before and we stopped to gaze at a tiny owl who swiveled his head almost all the way around as he gazed back at us.
We opened Juan's fabulous Medalla Real Special Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon and savoured every drop as we watched the sun go down. It seemed oh so appropriate that it was a brilliant orange sun that sank through the clouds and then at the very last moment turned inarguably green as it dropped below the horizon - my very first green flash!
09/04/2008/3:44 pm, New Bight, Cat Island
I wish I could figure out exactly what it is that makes a moment priceless.
We got up this morning and ran a bunch of errands - returned the car to the grocery store, arranged to get water from Lula and told her we'd be back for breakfast at her place. It was as we were sitting at her picnic table on the beach that it hit me. I was totally and perfectly happy, right at that very moment. It was more than contentment or being in a pleasant place - there was nothing wildly exciting nor any set of rational facts about it - it was just simply a perfect moment.
Lula's table sits beside the beach so we had the sound of waves lapping on the shore; the air was fresh because it was still early in the day; the branches of the casurina trees leaned over us (picture soft pine needles on trees with long branches) while the sun started its rise through the sky; the food was simple and tasted satisfying. Lula served grits and sausage - strips of bologna cooked up with onions in a spicy sauce. It was not something I ever thought of eating for breakfast but it was just right that day. Even Jim declared the grits (white grits instead of yellow) to be the best he had ever eaten.
Was it because all my senses were involved? Were the planets aligned? Was it the simplicity and pureness of the moment? I still don't know. What I do know is that it doesn't take much to make a perfect moment - just a few random circumstances and the time to notice it. Perhaps this is one gift of this trip - the time to notice things.
Our lives are often so busy and there are so many imperfect events taking place - personal and global. We have places to go, things to do, people to see, situations with which we must cope. We accept as a matter of course that we do not live perfect lives or experience perfect days. We are not joyous all the time and we don't feel successful all the time. The secret is in the moments. If I can remember to notice the moments, it will be one immeasurable lesson from this year of travel.
The rest of the day was good - we hauled anchor and headed off to Fernandez Bay where we went ashore to enjoy the scenery from the resort and have a drink at their bar in thanks for permission to anchor in their "front yard". We stopped to say hello to Kate and Chuck on Eridanus, also anchored in that pretty little bay, and then spent a quiet evening with our books and a pasta dinner. It was all just fine, but it was the feeling of the morning that stayed with me through the day.